RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's comment that conversion to Christianity was the main objective behind Mother Teresa's service to the poor has evoked controversy but the organisation denied he criticised the Nobel laureate who spent her life in the service of the destitute.
"People like Mother Teresa did good work and service. But the aim was to convert the poor to Christianity. This kind of service is devalued if conversions are done in the name of service or work," Bhagwat said at a function of a local NGO near Bharatpur on Monday.
Backing Bhagwat, BJP MP Vinay Katiyar said: "Mother Teresa's service was out of selfish motives."
Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal criticised the statement in a tweet: "I worked wid Mother Teresa for a few months at Nirmal Hriday ashram in Kolkata. She was a noble soul. Pl spare her."
"By giving these kind of statements, they (the RSS) are trying to create a religious divide. Mother Teresa comes from which religion does not matter, what matters most is the service she provided to the poor," Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot said.
Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O'Brien condemned Bhagwat's reported remarks and said Mother Teresa was not about just Christianity but was a world figure loved by everyone. "Since I am from Kolkata, so it makes it even more worse to hear what he said," he said.
"Now what will the pinstripe suit say to the khaki shorts about his views on Mother Teresa #condemn," O'Brien tweeted.
"It looks like the Sangh Parivar is trying to assert itself by refuting the PM's recent call for religious harmony," Delhi archbishop Anil Couto told a newspaper.
Some Christian community leaders and NGOs in the state also flayed the statement. However, the RSS said the statement was attributed wrongly. "Media reporting wrongly. At Bharatpur Ex DG BSF said that Mother Teresa did Seva with motive of conversion (sic)," said a tweet on RSS' official Twitter handle.
"In reply Bhagavatji said, 'let Mother Teresa know her motive for Seva, we do Seva without expecting any returns'", RSS' M Vaidya said.
Mother Teresa's service to poor was aimed at conversion: Mohan Bhagwat